Anna Nussbaum March 26, 2006 - 8:31pm
Last Friday I went to Stations of the Cross in search of something. A darkened sanctuary. A quiet room. A sense of the season. I needed to be still. I needed to stand and kneel, to hear and say, that which is impossible to say alone, "We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You; Because by your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world."
But when I arrived at church Friday evening, I was told by my priest that the congregation was to remain seated. We were trying something "new." The Stations were to appear on a video screen at the front of the sanctuary. There would be no standing, no walking, no kneeling, no incense. Elderly people and nuns shifted nervously in their seats; Catholics unmoored. How could they sit as the story of Jesus' torture and execution was told? The posture was all wrong. Some covered their faces, others looked around in dismay. We needed the ritual. We needed to kneel. We didn't want to be spared the indecency, it was part of why we'd come.
There's a photo in my parent's kitchen of my siblings and I on our knees in footed pajamas around an Advent wreath. Small children, we couldn't have known what the season was all about, but even then it was beautiful and terrifying. We got to stay up late and watch candles illuminate the darkness. There was reading and a little singing, and sometimes, when we were still small, there was kneeling; that uncomfortable position, reserved for sadness and awe.
I know it's easy to complain about the liturgy, but I think, especially in Lent, that we need to be allowed to kneel.